Correlates of vocational outcome of adult women cancer survivors

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


kenneth Reagles


women's employment

Subject Categories

Student Counseling and Personnel Services


Employment discrimination has been a widely reported problem for persons with histories of cancer. Although women comprise a major portion of the workforce, there is little empirical data on the vocational concerns of women cancer survivors. This quantitative research study examined whether adult women cancer survivors experience employment or career difficulties related to their medical histories.

A master list was compiled from information provided by five New York State units of the American Cancer Society. Survey questionnaire packets were mailed to 202 women (20-65 years of age) who were randomly selected to participate in the research project. Although 122 individuals responded, only 47 met all of the stated criteria.

It was determined that the majority of women (83%) were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer (I/II). In addition, almost the entire sample (94%) of working women reported the desire to continue working after treatment; however, 69% of the respondents indicated that their career plans had been altered after having cancer.

The Vocational Inventory for Women Cancer Survivors (Falise, 1992) was developed for the present study. It included employment data, educational background, vocational rehabilitation experiences, and employment recovery.

Factor analyses were conducted to analyze the large number of variables in an effort to determine whether there were a few identifiable dimensions. The major constructs were support and work accommodation, professional and work supports, economic necessity, health insurance coverage, reassessment of career options, inability to sustain employment, and friendship at work.

Individual factor scores, along with overall (summative) factor scores were used as dependent variables in a series of eight t-tests to determine the level of significance. The economic necessity factor was determined to be statistically significant at the.05 level.

Three groups of women, each with a different health status, were identified. Core issues were reviewed, as well as the unique needs of each group. Basic insurance and vocational guidelines were outlined. Suggestions for future study included examination of the needs of primary wage earners, programs in comprehensive cancer facilities, and programs within work organizations. Finally, examination of employment opportunities in the state of Hawaii and in countries where there is greater access to health care was suggested.


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